Soccer-Damjanovic equals Asian record as Kitchee down Port FC

·2-min read
Montenegro's Damjanovic celebrates a goal against England during their World Cup qualifying soccer match in Podgorica

By Michael Church

(Reuters) - Former Montenegro international Dejan Damjanovic became the joint-highest goal scorer in Asian Champions League history on Thursday when he netted Kitchee's second goal in their 2-0 win over Thailand's Port FC in Buriram.

The 39-year-old, who joined the Hong Kong champions in February after spending most of his career in South Korea, struck from 12 metres out to take his tally in the competition to 37 goals, level with retired Korean striker Lee Dong-gook.

"Now, I will try to be the first one," said Damjanovic of his hopes to surpass Lee's tally.

"I have five games more, five more chances and I know with my team mates I can do that."

Kitchee took the lead against the run of play in the teams' opening Group J encounter through Roberto's 37th-minute volley and Damjanovic claimed the second 11 minutes from time to put the result beyond doubt.

The win moved Kitchee level on three points with Japan's Cerezo Osaka at the top of the early standings after Levir Culpi's side handed an inexperienced Guangzhou FC a 2-0 loss in the day's early game.

Headers from Hiroaki Okuno and Tiago Pagnussat were enough to give the Japanese the win as Guangzhou fielded a youthful line-up after sending a squad featuring players from the club's academy to Thailand due to quarantining restrictions in China.

The Chinese side trailed as early as the 15th minute when Okuno was given the time and space to head home Riki Harakawa's corner from the right.

With 21 minutes remaining, a second defensive lapse allowed Harakawa to send in another corner from which Brazilian defender Tiago scored after goalkeeper Zhang Jianzhi had pushed the ball onto the underside of the crossbar.

Games in this year's Asian Champions League are being played in a series of biosecure hubs, with matches for clubs from the east of Asia being held in Thailand and Uzbekistan.

Only the winners of each of the five eastern groups advance to the last 16, where they will be joined by the three runners-up with the best records.

Teams in west Asia completed their group matches in April and the next phase of the competition will be played in September, with the final slated to be held in late November.

(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Ed Osmond)

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